Imatges de pàgina

give. We must not expect that God will always acquit us, as he did the brethren of Joseph, who were spared, not for their own fakes, but for his, (to be summoned, no doubt, after that, to a higher tribunal, where their behaviour will be strictly enquired into, and deservedly rewarded.) – When the brethren made the reflection now before us, little, we may imagine, did they fufpect that the object of it was so near them. Joseph, who had purposely spoken by an interpreter to conceal himself, over-heard, and was fo moved by it, that he was obliged to withdraw for a time, and vent the anguish of his inind in a flood of tears : He turned about, says the scripture, from them and wept. Nothing can be more tender and affecting than this circumstance : indeed, in such a situation, it was impossible to act in any other manner. We are verily guilty, said they, concerning our brother. This was the very acknowledgment which he wished them to make : but it was, at the same time, an acknowledgment which, from such brethren, he could hardly have expected ; his tears, therefore, were tears of joy. Nature, that roused the emotion, did, herself, quickly release him from the distress of it: he turned about fro:n them and wept. This unburthened his full heart, and gave him the opportunity, in a few months to return and acquaint them with his final rufolucivil; which was,


their eyes.

that Simeon must remain an hostage till they came back, and brought Benjamin with them; he took from them Simeon, and bound him before

Reuben had, we may remember, protested strongly against the murder of Joseph, and probably contributed to the pre. fervation of his life: Simeon, therefore, as the eldest of those who threw him into the pit, was the most proper object of Joseph's Thort-lived resentment, and accordingly remained a prisoner in Egypt. We must now accompany the brethren back to their native land, and remark the reception which they met with from their anxious father, which will bring on the affecting catastrophe of this whole pathetic and interesting relation; whence I shall take occasion to draw fuch useful and instructive inferences as, I flatter myself, will deeply engage your attention, and at once fortify and improve those resolutions which may be of the utmost service to us in our future conduct,

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The Lord was with Joseph.

IN the conclusion of my laft discourse we

left Joseph's brethren on their return to the land of Canaan, whither they were haf. tening, with all possible expedition, to fetch Benjamin, and redeem Simeon, who was left as an hostage in Egypt, when a circumstance happened which greatly terrified and alarmed them. As they stopped to bait on their journey, behold, the money which they had carried with them to buy corn was restored to them; and every man's money was found in the mouth of his fack, where it had been secretly and purposely conveyed by order of Jofeph, who, we may imagine, thought it would have been an agreeable furprize to them: but they considered it in another light, as a premeditated design of the governor to accuse them of fraudulent practices, and take the opportunity of making them bondsmen and flaves ; a groundless fufpicion, which they had no reason to en tertain. But guilt is always timid, jealous,


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and alarmed; it is the curse of the wicked to be afraid where no fear is: they were fearful of punishment, because they knew that they had deserved it; and their frightened imagination suggested to them the worst that could possibly happen. The conduct of Joseph was indeed something strange and mysterious, for which they could not easily account. Uncertain, however, and anxious for the event, they proceeded on their journey, and foon arrived safely at the house of their father, acquainted him with every thing that had happened, and concluded, by requesting him to send their brother Benjamin back with them to Egypt. This was a severe stroke, which the afflicted Jacob little expected; he could not bear, at this time of life, thus to be deprived of every remaining comfort, and left childless and forlorn, in the extremity of

He expoftulates with them in the tenderest manner: Me, says he, have ye bereaved

children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not,

will take Benjamin away. It was in vain to represent to him the necessity of returning with the younger to free the elder brother. When the mind is oppressed by a greater calamity, the less is scarce felt or regarded. Reuben, however, who was the least culpa. ble, was, probably, on that very account, the most bold and confident amongst them; he promises his father, in the moft solemn manner to restore Benjamin safely to him, and even offers up his own two sons to be


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slain, if he did not perform it. Judah enforceth the arguments of Reuben, and generously yields himself up as a surety; IF I bring him not unto thee, says he, let me bear the blame for ever.

The old man at length, prevailed on by their importunities, delivers his darling Benjamin into their hands, gives them more money for corn, together with several valuable presents for Joseph, and, with a heavy heart, takes his second leave of them, little hoping, perhaps, that he should ever meet them all again: but the Lord, ever watchful over his chosen servants, had only sunk him to this state of misery and despair, to give him the more exquisite joy and pleafure at their return. Thus doth our gracious Creator often try the patience, and depress the hearts, of his faithful servants, by the most bitter afflictions, which are afterwards turned unto good, and rendered productive of greater and more perfect happiness.

Again, then, let us attend Joseph's brethren to the court of Pharaoh, where the favourite of the Almighty no sooner beheld his beloved Benjamin accompanying them, than he immediately gave orders for their reception, in such a manner, as sufficiently thewed how welcome a guest they had brought along with them. As soon as they came into his presence, he enquires with most folicitous tenderness after their aged father, and then, turning towards Benjamin, falutes hin in such terms, as, no doubt,


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